This edition of Boss Ladies is brought to you by member Tori Roze, who reviews Gaby Aparicio's new album, La Bella Vita.
A love letter to her mother, La Bella Vita rounds out seventeen plus years-worth of Gaby Aparicio creating alluring audio - seamlessly blending Latin-based music, pop, and that of the traditional singer-songwriter. A musical rarity of deep substance and beauty, Aparicio delivers her unique musical Uruguayan, Italian, North American flavor in three languages with the perfect amount of passion, precision, and intention. As the writer of every song on an album that generously rotates through a considerable amount of San Diego all-star talent; Aparicio definitively conveys her wishes to grow, to love, to help others, to dream, to experience life, to succeed, to fail, to show you her heart, and to embrace all of herself throughout the process.
The album opens with the enigmatically seductive song “Captivate Me.” Spanish guitar (played by Aparicio and Israel Maldonado) gently invites you into the cozy arms of Aparicio’s unbelievably clear voice. Her vocal quality bears a whispery closeness - the cinematic picture in one’s mind of an all-consuming love affair becomes imaginatively vivid once she begins singing. A range of majestic animals hits you between the eyes as her lyrics paint gorgeous metaphors over a tapestry of meticulously layered music. While this song is written in English, it hints at what is promised to you as a listener entering the world of La Bella Vita – a fastidious melting pot of sound with a clear message: to authentically “be you.”
The second track, “Se Va,” kicks-off with a rootsy nylon-stringed guitar, bringing forth Aparicio’s singer-songwriter musical foundation. With the music and vocals in tandem, there is a driving undertone of yearning to its sonic affect. The first song of many where we get to experience lyrics in another language; one gains an even better sense of the primo vocal clarity Aparicio touts regardless of the language she is singing in. The rhythm section (Gaby Aparicio, Gregg Montante, Saul Timba, James East, and Jake Najor) is tight. Aparicio tastefully conquers Spanish-style nylon-stringed guitar techniques while singing all of the female vocal parts. Many will venture, but few will succeed – and Aparicio elicits vibes reminiscent of Lila Down’s notable genre-bending multi-lingual music.
“Tango Triste” sounds and feels like a song directly out of a Cirque du Soleil show. There is an inescapable sensibility of heavy emotion affecting you from the first note. Leading with a thematic picky surf-rock electric guitar echoed by a writhing violin (played by Jamie Shadowlight), the emotional tug-and-pull of dissonant music unavoidably grabs you. The layered percussion, played by Julien Cantelm, is so well-executed that you can hear each and every tonal and textural detail. The bass (played by the producer of this particular song, Jacob “Cubby” Miranda) picks up at the chorus and pushes the action of the song forward. Speaking from a filmic perspective – “Tango Triste” might find itself strategically placed in a suspense movie just as easily as it could fit into a scene between fiery lovers. Violin enhances the intense sultry vibrancy that the song effortlessly embodies. There is an immovable strength to the Spanish-sung lead and backing vocals as they reinforce the melodious back-and-forth sewn into the fabric of the music. This song makes you involuntarily feel the lustful torture of longing for a once familiar love with its impassioned chorus: “Una tristesa, bien colorante//Me penetra desde el cielo//Como me llena//El tango llorante//Devo cantarlo asi.”
“Corazon” cools the heat of the previous song and gives off a vibration of peaceful existence with a bouncy nylon guitar as your guide. There is a sense of calm that washes over you as the dynamic percussion - with the combined efforts of Julien Cantelm (drums), Marcus Alcantarilla (Cavaquinho), and Halysson Silva (percussion) – gently caresses your ears. Altogether, it feels like a pleasant vacation you never want to return home from.
Aparicio’s voice on “Best Version of Me” evokes Sara Bareilles’ tonally bright musical style, but with an easy-going twist of Uruguayan/Italian zest. The brush work provided by Julien Cantelm sustains a rhythmic pace while a tenor saxophone, played by Stefanie Schmitz, dances over a delightfully balanced rhythm section. Aparicio speaks to the simplicity of loving yourself to be the “best version” of you. She adds that through the vehicle of receiving and accepting love from another, one stands to become a consummate version of oneself.
Aptly named “Tangled Heart,” bongos and shakers (played by Enrique Platas) juxtaposed against a pyramid of flowy guitars (played by Aparicio and Maldonado) temper a self-reflective sentiment ever-present in both the music and lyrics. There is an intentional conversation between the instruments and lyrics; each replying to the other like a dialogue in smoothly-laid-out time. As Aparicio illustrates with candid vulnerability, our internal selves can be a dazzling yet chaotic place to navigate. Aparicio comments on her own internal complexities as she acknowledges that her heart will always be an exquisite work in progress: the journey is the destination and acceptance of one’s humanness is vital for growth in one’s personal evolution.
The backing vocals on “Bella Vita” enter the scene like a breeze blowing through a seaside town. An audible warmth overtakes you as three distinct languages envelop your ears. Love, as described here, is comparable to the natural relationship between land and water at a coastal meeting point – they are always touching and whirling into each other, ebbing and flowing. That type of relationship is the quintessential depiction of a complimentary part: one lends to the other harmoniously counterbalancing where the other falls short. This song is so unmistakably enjoyable that one could imagine themselves singing the choral “la, la, la’s” whilst driving along the Mediterranean Sea in a convertible car with the top down.
“Matter” closes out the album with a final message straight from Aparicio’s heart – to remember to be present and act out of love towards the people around you. Recorded and engineered by San Diego favorite Jeff Berkley, the intimacy and balance of sound is pure. Believing this to be by design, it is the only song on the album solely comprised of vocals and nylon-stringed guitar. The tender conveyance of the backing vocals is similar to a lullaby that softly cradles you. Aparicio’s wish to leave her audience with a sense of hope, self-kindness, and patience towards pursuing their own personal transformation is the culmination of her intention to create. She urges you to find out who you are and where you fit into the world, but in your own time.
La Bella Vita is a more than just a love letter. With rich musicianship and catchy musical earworms abound, these eight tracks will leave you humming along while inspiring you to reflect on your own life’s path. Aparicio’s multi-faceted and vulnerable elegance are a gift she lovingly bequeaths to her listeners. And although it was primarily recorded by Alan Sanderson at Pacific Beat Recording, this album is clearly a collaborative labor of love by all involved. They say “it takes a village” and what a handsome waterfront village Gaby Aparicio has built. Life truly is beautiful, and this album is proof.
Link to buy album - https://www.gabyaparicio.com/music
Meet the Writer: Tori Roze
Our Lady Brain blog writers work on a volunteer basis in support of their fellow members. If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a small donation to Tori via Venmo, which will help support her creative endeavors.
Thank you to Rosemary Bystrak for including a shout-out to Lady Brain Fest on the San Diego: Dialed In blog. We appreciate the support!
Thank you to the San Diego Reader for including Lady Brain Fest in their weekend event roundup! We appreciate the local love (though we were all the headliners cause that's how we roll in the Lady Brain crew, lol).
Thanks to Tim Pyles, Rowley, and the 91X Loudspeaker team for inviting Cathryn Beeks and Lindsay White to come on the air and chat about the upcoming Lady Brain Fest. Tim also spun tracks by festival performers Tori Roze, Gaby Aparicio, White, and Marie Haddad. Lady Brain Fest is less than a week away - you can purchase pre-sale tickets for $12 online or $15 at the door!
Thank you to George Varga and the San Diego Union Tribune for this great coverage of our first annual Lady Brain Fest! We appreciate the love for local/indie musicians in this roundup of big name touring talent. Read the full article here and don't forget to purchase your pre-sale tickets before prices go up at the door!
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